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Types of Marijuana

How to Recognize the Many Different Kinds of Cannabis

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Updated December 31, 2012

There are several different types of marijuana preparation, and they are called by many different names. To the uninitiated, these may seem like completely different drugs. Although they do not look alike, they are essentially the same drug, with the same psychoactive ingredients. However, because the potency of marijuana can vary greatly from one preparation to another, and because the route of administration and individual set and setting can strongly affect the intensity of the marijuana effects, one person's experience of taking marijuana can be completely different from another person's experience.

Weed

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Weed is an unprocessed form of marijuana, consisting of the leaves and buds of the female Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica plants. Essentially, the only preparation that happens to weed is for the leaves and buds to be dried, although occasionally weed is sprayed with contaminants, such as other psychoactive drugs, to enhance the effects particularly of poor quality or stale marijuana, or the leaves of male Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica plants, which do not contain THC, and are therefore not psychoactive.

Read more about this type of marijuana in the related article, What is Weed?

How to Recognize Weed

Weed typically looks like a greenish herbal mixture, although unlike kitchen herbs, it is lumpy rather than finely chopped. One of the most distinctive characteristics of weed is the smell -- it has a very pungent and recognizable odor, both in its unburnt state, and while being smoked. This odor is quite unlike kitchen herbs, although weed can be cut (mixed) with benign kitchen herbs such as oregano and parsley. Once you know the smell of marijuana, you may notice it as third hand smoke on the breath or clothing of marijuana smokers -- who may be unaware of how strong and obvious the odor is to other people. Learning to recognize the smell of weed can keep you wise to whether you are in the company of a marijuana user.

Hashish

Image © Farmer Dodds, Flickr
Hashish, or hash for short, is a preparation of marijuana made from the resin of the Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica plant. Cannabis resin can be referred to by the names of the specific type of hash, rather than the generic names of hashish or pot. They are all the same drug. These different names for hashish include: black, goldseal black, redseal black, and Morrocan (Rocky for short). The resin is dried into blocks of hashish, producing an oily, solid substance.

How to Recognize Hashish

There are several different types of hashish, and their colors range from dark brown or almost black, through various shades of brown, to a dirty yellowish color.  The appearance of different types of hashish can vary from looking dark and shiny, a bit like licorice, to being lighter and dull or matte, a bit like a stock cube.

The texture of hashish also varies from quite dry and hard, like piece of fudge, to moist and pliable, a bit like plasticine. As with weed, hashish has a very distinctive, pungent odor, which is one of the easiest ways of identifying it as a form of marijuana. The appearance of hashish is so varied that novice users are often duped into buying licorice or other cheap, benign substances that look similar.

Hashish Oil or Hash Oil

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Hashish oil is the strongest form of marijuana, and is the least common form of the drug.  It is sold in tiny bottles or sealed plastic bags and only a small amount is needed to produce the effects of marijuana. Typically, marijuana oil is smoked in a pipe, or painted onto cigarettes or joints.

Marijuana Cigarettes -- Joints, Spliffs and Doobies

Weed is commonly smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, known as "joints," "spliffs," or "doobies."  The lumpy texture of weed, which can be felt through the tobacco rolling paper, is one of the characteristics that can differentiate a joint from a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette.  Hashish and weed can be mixed with rolling tobacco (a soft, moist, sticky tobacco preparation designed for hand-rolling) or the dry tobacco from deconstructed cigarettes.  The technique of warning then crumbling hashish into hand-rolled joints is an important part of the ritual of marijuana use in some circles, and a giveaway clue that you are with drug users. If you are offered a hand-rolled cigarette to smoke, be aware it may contain marijuana.

Marijuana Paraphernalia -- Pipes, Bongs, Water Pipes, and Chillums

Heavy users of marijuana in particular may own and use a variety of paraphernalia for marijuana compulsion.  Weed, hashish and hashish oil can all be smoked in pipes, water pipes, and bongs, or mixed with tobacco and smoked in a chillum. Paraphernalia can range from simple, homemade devices, such as water pipes made from used pop bottles, to elaborate and ornate bongs, which can be enormous.  If you are in the company of people who use elaborate bongs or pipes, be aware that they are likely to be heavy users or marijuana addicts, as ownership of these items requires considerable cash outlay and risk.

Marijuana-Laced Food and Drink

Image © April Cooper / SXC

Marijuana can also be taken orally, for example by being cooked into food. A classic way to eat marijuana is in the form of brownies or cookies, although marijuana can be added to many types of food, like a herb. Hashish and hashish oil can also be dissolved into milk and consumed in drinks, milk being the carrier of choice due to its emulsive properties as cannabis is an oil-based substance. You may be able to detect the smell of marijuana in the food, although this is more difficult to identify than when marijuana is being smoked, because of the masking effects of the other ingredients. When in doubt, don't eat or drink anything unless you have prepared it yourself!

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Sources:

Denning, P., Little, J. and Glickman, A. Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol. New York: Guilford. 2004.

Jacquette, D. and Allhoff, F. (Editors). Cannabis: Philosophy for Everyone. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. 2010.

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